From Middle English liege, lege, lige, from Anglo-Norman lige, from Old French liege (“liege, free”), from Middle High German ledic, ledec (“free, empty, vacant”) (Modern German ledig (“unmarried”)) from Proto-Germanic *liþugaz (“flexible, free, unoccupied”). Akin to Old Frisian leþeg, leþoch (“free”), Old English liþiġ (“flexible”), Old Norse liðugr (“free, unhindered”), Old Saxon lethig (“idle”), Low German leddig (“empty”), Middle Dutch ledich (“idle, unemployed”) (Dutch ledig (“empty”) and leeg (“empty”)), Middle English lethi (“unoccupied, at leisure”).
An alternate etymology traces the Old French word from Late Latin laeticus "of or relating to a semifree colonist in Gaul" from laetus "a semi-free colonist", of Germanic origin, akin to Old English lǣt (“servant”).
liege (plural lieges)
- A free and independent person; specifically, a lord paramount; a sovereign.
- The subject of a sovereign or lord; a liegeman.
liege (not comparable)
- Sovereign; independent; having authority or right to allegiance.
- a liege lord
- She looked as grand as doomsday and as grave; / And he, he reverenced his liege lady there.
- Serving an independent sovereign or master; bound by a feudal tenure; obliged to be faithful and loyal to a superior, such as a vassal to his lord; faithful
- a liege man; a liege subject
- (obsolete, law) Full; perfect; complete; pure.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Burrill to this entry?)